Personne accompagnatrice: Grant Hawley
Dates and Themes of the Sessions:
- September 17, 2004: Introduction to Projet Accompagnement-Recherche-Formation, the links between accompaniment and the implementation of the Québec Education Program
Participants explored the question of why the QEP requires teachers to act differently. They shared the sense given to key words, ideas and concepts related to the orientations of the program. This was followed by clarification of the sense of "animation", "training", and "accompaniment" as they are understood by the Projet Accompagnement-Recherche-Formation (PARF). The notion of socioconstructivist accompaniment was introduced. Discussion that followed focused on what has been undertaken in the individual school boards toward implementation of the QEP. The session drew to a close with a discussion regarding possible directions for accompaniment for the group.
- October 14-15, 2004: Competencies related to accompaniment, the concept of competency, and an initial reflection on the cross-curricular competencies
Identification of the characteristics of the accompaniment process preceded an exploration of the competencies associated with accompaniment. Following a discussion of competencies inherent to accompaniment, participants identified aspects of competency. They then drew on their discussion to define competency. The subsequent reflection focused on strategies to develop competencies associated with accompaniment. The notion of cross-curricular competency was introduced through reflection on their use in one's own daily life. Participants then made links between cross-curricular competencies and their current professional work. This led finally to reflection on, and discussion of, strategies that can be used to develop cross-curricular competency in the context of a classroom.
February 8-9, 2005: Evaluation in connection with professional judgment and cycle-team work
The session began with a moment of reflection on participant's expectations of a professional. The process of reflection lead to small group work through which participants made links between their expectations of professionals and characteristics associated with one of the following: cycle (colleague)-team work; professional judgment, or evaluation. Through a synthesis of the characteristics that participants suggested, three common elements emerged-attitudes, the intellectual component and the need for cooperation. Further reflection focused on the role of cycle or colleague teams in the evaluation process, including attention to that which is evaluated: competency. Small groups developed a short intervention that could be used to help a secondary teacher understand the concept of competency. After presentations by each group, the focus returned to cycle team work and their importance in the context of evaluation of learning and in the context of education reform.
- March 22-23, 2005: Competency development in connection with evaluation
The session began with a reflection on the difference between use and development of competency. Participant reflections were linked to the cycle of competency development, first introduced in the February session. This was followed by an activity that required small groups to work with the QEP as they named cross-curricular competencies that could be developed using a list of general ideas, for example, having students engage in discussion. Participant continued working with the general ideas, suggesting specific strategies for competency development; the degree to which would be developed was suggested. Participants were reorganized into groups which focused on one of the subject areas. Referring to the specific strategies and cross-curricular competencies in the previous step, participant teams made links with one or more subject specific competency and program content. They used the links to create frameworks that could be developed as learning and evaluation situations. The following day, keeping in mind the frameworks developed on the first day, participants reflected on the connections between the criteria for evaluation of competency, the key features and the associated manifestations. They did a self-evaluation of the tools and methods they are accustomed to using, and distinguished between evaluation for and of learning. They two days culminated in a return to the frameworks, this time with the purpose of reflecting on issues related to evaluation of the selected competencies. The process concluded as participants shared key observations related to competency development and evaluation.
- February 7-8, 2006: The nature and sense of competency, competency development and evaluation of competency
It is important to underline that this session served to reintroduce the members of the Trois-Rivières - Québec City group to the accompaniment project and process after an eleven month period during which they did not meet. The two days also served as a 'catch-up' session for members of the Montreal Group who had been unable to attend sessions in the autumn of 2005. Of additional significance is the fact that over the course of the session, teams worked on a complex task related to planning for development and evaluation of competency. The situations created by the teams became the focus of further learning in the subsequent sessions for both the Quebec City and the Montreal Group (see: Montreal-February 15-16; Quebec City-March 22-23).
The session began with an opportunity for participants to reflect on the steps they feel are needed to move forward with implementation, as well as the competencies that they feel they need to develop to assist with the implementation process. The issues discussed were shared in small groups and, when shared with the large group, categorized to underline and reintroduce the intentions of the Projet Accompagnement-Recherche-Formation (PARF).
To prepare participants for the complex task mentioned in the introductory paragraph, they reflected on a series of questions in two activities related to competency: The discussion and sharing of ideas preceded a synthesis which drew attention to the key ideas related to competency and the cycle of competency development.
In the next phase participants looked at the two competencies with which they would be working (one cross curricular and one subject specific competency). They were required to consider how the presentation of the competencies in the QEP provides useful references in planning for the development of competency.
Using the selected competencies as references, participants brainstormed activities that they felt would develop the competencies. In the next step, they ranked each suggested activity in connection with the degree to which it would develop the competency. This lead to a presentation and discussion of the terms: situations, tasks, learning activities and complex tasks. The characteristics of a situation that develops competency were drawn out of the discussion-and became part of the closing comments for the first day.
On the second day teams worked on the development of a situation: series of activities and task intended to develop two competencies (one CCC one SSC) and connected to a Broad Area of Learning. After sharing their situations and receiving feedback from other teams, participants reflected on the actions and conditions in connection with their situation that would contribute to the development of competency.
Participant comments reflected their perceptions that the guided planning process had helped them have a more global view of the program and planning, to make connections to prior understanding of the QEP, to make links between the component parts of the program. The concrete, hands-on aspect of the session was appreciated.
In a final activity, specific attention was drawn to beliefs around evaluation when all participants were asked to consider the following questions in connection with the situation they had developed : What would you evaluate ? How would you evaluate ? What would you do with the information ? This step was used to bring the session to closure as it the angle from which the team's situations would be picked up in the subsequent PARF session.
- March 22-23, 2006: Evaluation for the support of learning in connection with competency development
The session began with a request for participants to establish a learning goal for the two days in connection with the plan that had been established. Goals were shared and categorized in connection with the intentions of PARF.
In the first activity participants reflected on the factors that need to be taken into account when planning a learning situation that develops competency. From the discussion a set of questions emerged: Who are my learners? What do they need to know? What is the environmental context? What conditions need to be in place to develop competency? What strategies do I need to use to ensure learning takes place? How will I know that learning is taking place?
In the next step participants read an excerpt (Section 2.1) of the ministry text on planning (released at the Session de formation des Personnes-Ressources). Teams were asked to make connections to the text, and later reported to the group on the issues arising in their discussion. Participants drew out three elements: clearly defined intentions (1) must be established in connection with a learning situation (2) designed to support students in carrying out a complex task (3) in connection with the targeted competency.
In the next step, the group was divided into teams and each team was presented a situation that had been developed in the previous session (February 7-8). Each team was asked to consider the degree to which the situation had developed the targeted cross-curricular competency. The teams' decisions were shared and justified. A synthesis followed in which attention was drawn to the sequence of learning activities and the complex task in connection with competency development. Each team was then asked to revise the situation in connection with the targeted subject-specific competency. The revised situations were presented and one was selected for further group discussion.
At this point, all participants were asked to reflect on: What they would evaluate and How they would evaluate-in connection with the revised situation. Teams discussed their responses then participated in group sharing. A synthesis followed in which the criteria in relation to the complex task were highlighted and distinguished from feedback on skill and knowledge building in preparation for the complex task.
At the beginning of the second day, participants named and shared three new understandings they had in connection with evaluation. The list was compiled. Participants broke into disciplinary groups and reflected on the compiled list-to check if the perceptions applied to competencies with which they were familiar.
The discussion turned to purposes of evaluation. Participants reflected on the question of why we evaluate in connection with a learning and evaluation situation. The reasons that were drawn out of the discussion were listed in two categories. Participants then focused their attention on an excerpt of the policy regarding evaluation for the support of learning (page 26). Further discussion took place and the key ideas from each group were shared. A synthesis followed in which two visuals were created in which the relationship was shown between feedback on learning, data collection in connection with a complex task, gathering of the data on a series of situations over time. Participants then read pages 28 and 29 of the Policy on Evaluation, and brainstormed all actions that would fall under each of the four steps of the evaluation process.
The session wrapped up with a reflection, team discussion and sharing of strategies that the participants could use to accompany the members of their milieu in connection with planning for development and evaluation of competency.
- October 25-26, 2007: Accompanying Professional Judgment in Evaluation and Reporting
The activities and intentions for this session were influenced by a number of extraordinary factors:
- 8 of the participants had little or no exposure to the accompaniment process;
- this was the first session for this group with a new and clear mandate from the School Board;
- this was the first session for this accompaniment team;
- the session was held during a time when everyone's preoccupation was with understanding "status of development of student competency", making sense of the Minister's directions concerning progress reports and the need to develop board-wide descriptors that would represent a professional judgment as to the status of student competency development.
These elements along with the usual goals of the Accompaniment Project were the backdrop for the entire session.
The intentions for the session were of two orders.
The explicit intentions were to:
- construct a deeper understanding of the nature of professional judgment in the context of competency development and evaluation during the cycle;
- construct a deeper understanding of the need for the accompaniment process in changing present practices as well as strategies that the backbone of the process;
- construct a deeper understanding of the characteristics of an accompaniment plan.
- The implicit intentions were to:
- deepen understanding of the role to be played by the implementation team in their schools;
- clarify the roles to be played by each of the accompanists;
- develop a board-wide set of descriptors that would guide the evaluation and reporting processes.
Participants were given a binder containing the intentions, all of the activity sheets as well as the information sources to be worked on during the two days.
As the session unfolded feedback lists, synthesis created, group work were all photocopied and given to the participants to include in the binder.
The session began with the presentation of the learning intentions and the opportunity for participants to identify and record their own personal learning goals for the two days. A request that each participant reveal one of their learning intentions revealed their preoccupation with the most immediate needs which included evaluation and progress reporting and acquiring the skills required to accompany their school teams in meeting these obligations.
The first activities focused on exposing the participants to activities that mirror the accompaniment process such as the activation of prior knowledge, analysis and synthesis, co-construction, questioning while targeting a deeper understanding of the role of professional judgment in the context of competency development and evaluation.
Participants were asked to explore their present understanding of the factors to be taken into consideration when evaluating student competency. A list was generated, categories made and a synthesis resulted in the development of a common vision and common vocabulary that allowed the group to move on to an investigation of the scales.
Using the same learning strategies the participants explored the competency scales to deepen understanding of their role and function in the planning process and to differentiate between "status of development" and "level of development". As each activity unfolded the strategies being used were explicitly identified before, during and after so that links could be made between what was being experienced, the impact of the strategy and how it could be used in their own accompaniment plan.
The next series of activities required the participants to explore a LES with the purpose of identifying the types of professional judgments made by a teacher with respect to the competencies targeted. A list was generated, categories made and a synthesis brought the group to an understanding of what a teacher would be looking for when it came time to make a professional judgment as to the status of development of student competency. Armed with this information participants began the process of creating a list of 10 descriptors that would represent professional judgment with respect to status of development. Throughout the activities the group members were constantly revised in accordance with the implicit intentions identified above. For the last activity participants were in their school teams and a prize was offered by the School Board for the team who came up with the best list as voted upon by the group as a whole.
A great deal of interest and creative energy went into this activity and as a result the lists reflected that important learning had taken place. The culminating task for this portion of the session was the creation of a board-wide list of ten descriptors that would be standardized across the system for the purpose of identifying the status of student competency development for progress reporting.
The remainder of the last day was spent on school teams creating an action plan whereby these scales would be introduced to their respective communities. Each team was asked to include in their plan activities that mirrored strategies used during the two day session which began with the identification of clearly established learning intentions.
The following statements characterized remarks made during the wrap up:
- I am going to restate with greater clarity the goals that I have established for myself as an accompanist.
- I have identified my own teacher-expectations with respect to the upcoming progress report preparation and strategies to inform parents of the new processes.
- I will model constructivist learning strategies in activities designed for my staff from now on.
- I will be using questioning techniques with greater intention in the future.
- My principal and I have come to a common understanding of our role and I feel the responsibility for this work is shared by both of us â013 that is a very comforting feeling.
- I see clearly the connections between what we are doing in these sessions and what I should be doing in my classroom.
- Something I first saw as being â01Cmission impossibleâ01D now seems â01Cdoableâ01D.
- We will continue to model activating prior knowledge, synthesis, consensus as strategies for developing common vision in our school.
- May 1-2, 2008: Deepening Competency to Accompany a School Team
Factors Influencing the Intentions and Learning Activities for this Session
- each of the school teams had prepared and led one or more accompaniment activities since the last session;
- each team was asked to present a resume of their last accompaniment session and to indicate where their staff was in terms of implementation;
- if principals were to become more empowered to accompany their teams they needed to a) deepen their ability to plan accompaniment sessions from a long term perspective; b) further develop their accompaniment skills and they needed to develop a clearer understanding of the nature of a LES.
These elements along with the usual goals of the Accompaniment Project were the backdrop for the entire session.
The intentions for the session were of two orders:
The explicit intentions were to:
- Deepen ability to create Long Term Accompaniment Project that permits the school team to move towards a clearly identified performance target connected to the implementation of the QEP and its associated processes;
- deepen understanding of the role and nature of a LES;
- deepen accompaniment skills.
The implicit intentions were to:
- further clarify the roles to be played by each of the accompaniment teams;
- enable and encourage school teams to act effectively and with clarity of vision;
- to create commitment to the School Board vision for implementation of the new curriculum;
- to deepen the sense of a board-wide team effort with support from and to all members.
As the session unfolded feedback sheets, synthesis created from the analysis process, group work were all photocopied and given to the participants to include in the binder and to refer to as the session unfolded.
The session began with a presentation and discussion of the learning intentions and the opportunity for participants to identify and record their own personal learning goals for the two days. This session was organized in such a way as to model strategies used in the accompaniment process but also to mirror the process that a teacher would use in creating and managing a LES. These two explicit targets were referred to constantly throughout the two-day session. The complex task at the end of the session was to present a long term implementation action plan for each school that would run from June/08 to include the first status report card production in November/08.
Step #1 was for each team to give a short presentation on actions they had taken since the last session highlighting what worked and what did not and concluding with an indication of where they believed their staff to be at this point. A synthesis was done a) linking actions that worked to constructivist theory and the accompaniment process b) analysing and identifying common characteristics in actions that were less successful c) identifying principals to be respected in preparing and managing accompaniment sessions d) articulating with commonly understood language, where each staff was in the process. This became the prior knowledge, collectively understood, to begin work on their LES.
Step #2 was for each team to clearly articulate what pedagogical practices they wanted to see in place by November. Each team presented their findings and again a synthesis was done to deepen everyone's understanding of each of the areas of expertise to be developed. As a cross curricular competency to be targeted for development in the LES each team chose Teacher Training Competency #10 which is "To cooperate with members of the teaching team" in carrying out tasks involving the development and evaluation of the competencies targeted in the programs of study and taking into account the students concerned. The guidelines identified in the Teacher Training Document were the source of a number of ideas for their future sessions. Participants understood through this activity how important the role played by the ccc's is and how to integrate them into a LES.
Each team also came up with its own Broad Area of Learning which for most teams was the importance of developing transferable life skills that would permit students in their schools to effectively manage their personal lives. Throughout this series of activities there was a constant identification of strategies to be used in each session and linking of what they were doing to things that were to be taken into consideration when preparing a LES and why.
Step #3 was to have the groups report at strategic moments in order to get feedback, make links, develop a common vocabulary, deepen understanding, synthesis to new understandings when appropriate.
Step #4 involved group presentations of school team action plans to November 2008.
The following are remarks coming from the Learning, Future Directions Form as to what made learning possible:
- active participation, discussion and presentations with synthesis as the feedback process;
- constant links made by the accompanist established relevancy and led deeper understanding;
- relaxed and safe atmosphere allowed us to feel free to express our opinions;
- simulation activities put us in the driver's seat as learners;
- sharing of understandings interspersed with interventions by the accompanist;
- time to reflect;
- quality time to plan and to work on team building;
- questions, analysis and synthesis;
- we are all on the same page now, using common language moving in the same direction with support at the board level;
The following come from the resumes completed by the participants in the category of "My experiences and changes to my practice":
- My intentions are clearer, more direct and purposeful.
- I teach, guide and accompany almost solely through questions and reflection.
- I have learned to not take "venting" personally.
- I have learned to guide by modelling accompanist principles.
- The PARF project has allowed me to see the depth of what is required, to understand the urgency to act and given me the tools to be an effective change agent.
- These sessions have changed the way I work as a teacher. I no longer see myself as someone who is just a transmitter of knowledge. I now find ways to let my students find out what they need to know, reflect on their knowledge and transmit that new understanding back to me.
- This training has given me the confidence to lead my school forward to full implementation.
- Involving the administration in these sessions was an excellent idea.
- Involvement in these sessions has been the single most helpful training I have received. The impact has been greater on my own practice than anything else, however, it has enabled me to provide guidance and help to my colleagues. This would have not been possible without the sustained and continuous nature of the project.
- My involvement in the accompaniment project, as an administrator, has contributed to my being totally committed to the implementation process. My leadership style as an administrator has shifted from being "knowledge holder" to "modeller, facilitator".
- As a result of my participation in this project, I have been forced to examine my personal practice and my focus. Content became less important and skills became much more so. I have learned to guide instead of push, to ask questions instead of demanding answers. I used to see teachers and students as being more passive than I do now. It is a pleasure at this point in my career to have a new challenge.
My thoughts about this group:
- They have really come together as a team due in large part to the involvement, commitment, contribution and support of the Director of Educational Services, Marielle Stewart. She has been consistent in her message that curriculum implementation is not an option but an obligation and PARF is the process that will take the board team in that direction.
- Modelling the accompaniment process and constantly making links between action and theory is crucial.
- Increasing depth of understanding of the new curriculum and its related processes must be an explicit goal of each session. Creating activities that mirror the reform and making clear links is a very effective strategy to accomplish this. Accompanists must be skilled in socio-constructivist theory and practice but they must also lead by example in their schools and classrooms. To accompany does not mean to hold hands and walk together it means having a vision of what the future looks like while being skilled in the process that will inspire others to go there.
- This model of principal-key teacher with release time has proven to be a very effective model.
- The entire Board from commissioners to the classroom is behind the project giving it the momentum and credibility required to make important changes in professional practices at all levels.
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